Career Advice

Too Sick to Work? Here’s What to Do

Lisa Johnson Posted by Lisa
min read
Pexels Andrea Piacquadio 3807631

It’s winter and it feels like every single person on the train has the Black Plague and is trying to cough up a lung in your face.  It’s the season of discontent and chances are, you are going to wake up one morning and realise you are too sick to go to work.

So you need to call in sick.

Now, if you are like me, you dread making that call (I have to be honest here and say that I used to be able to time it for when the boss was eating or showering or otherwise occupied, just so I could leave a message), because you feel so guilty about being sick.  I always feel like I am wagging even when I clearly have man flu (which is serious when you’re a woman) and are mere minutes away from unconsciousness. 

Calling in Sick – best practice!

Call early.  The sooner you let your manager know you are not going to be in at work, the sooner you can relax back into bed with a box of aloe tissues and a blister pack of ‘Strepsils’.  Most people have voicemail and it is perfectly acceptable to leave a message.

If you are a temp working for an agency, definitely call early!  Call your consultant and if you have their number, your supervisor onsite at the job.  If you don’t have their number, make sure you tell your consultant you haven’t let your onsite manager know, so they can get straight onto the phone and update them.

Can you send a text?  It’s pretty common these days to send a text to say you’re not well and generally, this is acceptable – but ALWAYS find out what your company policy is.  It’s not unusual for an employer to have policies around how to manage sick leave, and if you don’t know if texting is an acceptable method of advising a manager that you are unwell, I suggest calling.

When do you need to provide a medical certificate?

This will depend on company policy.  Some businesses require medical certificates for every instance of sick leave (and FairWork says this is quite OK) and others only require a certificate if you are off work for more than a couple of days.  If you are unsure, ask your Manager when you are advising them that you’re not coming in, if you need a medical certificate.

Can an employer contact my Dr to verify my medical condition?

Not without your permission.  And they would need to have a pretty good reason to want to do so.

Can I refuse to supply a medical certificate?

Yes, but the employer may be within their rights to withhold pay for that day until you do produce one. 

How much sick leave am I entitled to?

If you are a full time, permanent employee –you are entitled to 10 paid days per year (this covers sick and carer’s leave).

If you are a casual employee, you are not entitled to paid sick leave but are entitled to 2 days unpaid leave.

Good luck to you all in this season of man flu and rude people coughing on trains!